My Wish List for the Next Pope

After the initial shock wore off about Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, I found my thoughts turning, oh so predictably, to the new pope who will take over in a few weeks.

And before I could stop myself, I penned the following wish list. And just so you’ll understand, my husband and I have been suffering through liturgical lunacy at our parish for about 11 years, so I’ve had plenty of time to mull things over, usually when the congregation is singing some particularly heinous Marty Haugen tune.  

Well, without further ado, here it is:

1. Dear Holy Father, please, on day one, fire all the liturgists. I’m sure you know they have peppered the Mass with egregious hymns, eliminated silence after Communion, and put cantors on the altars, just to mention a few problems.  

2. Also, would you consider discarding the title “minister,” as in hospitality minister, extraordinary minister, Eucharistic minister, music minister, and donut minister? OK, I’m kidding about that last one, but, really, the proliferation of ministers has seriously degraded the role of “priest.”

It is truly wonderful when lay people volunteer to help with collections, greet people, and visit shut-ins, but why does everyone have to be a minister? Maybe this is why many Catholics are confused about the Church’s teachings on the all-male priesthood. After all, if Mrs. Jones is a minister, why can’t her daughter become a priest?

3. Two words: Communion rails! Especially for people like me who yearn to kneel in the presence of Christ, but are afraid that if they do this in the aisle, they may need three people to help them back up, please bring back the rails!

4. I would love it if you would issue an edict requiring all parishes to gather up the “Breaking Wind” hymnals and burn them in the courtyard. And would it be possible to proclaim that singing ditties like “Ashes,” “Come to Me and Drink,” and “On Eagles’ Wings” at Mass is a venial sin?

5. And, finally, Holy Father, would you command that the priest once again faces Jesus in the tabernacle during Mass, instead of looking at the audience – oops, I mean congregation?

Thank you so much for your time. I wish you every blessing in your new role as “Papa” to the Catholic Church.

Lorraine is the author of two laugh-out-loud mysteries, “Death of a Liturgist” and “Death in the Choir,” as well as a serious biography of Flannery O’Connor, “The Abbess of Andalusia.” She writes about her journey from radical feminism and atheism to Catholicism in “Confessions of an Ex-Feminist.” Her email is [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @lorrainevmurray  


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  1. Hahahahaha! I agree with every word, Lorraine!

  2. YES!
    Thanks, Lorraine.

  3. Ha! 🙂
    That was a good list, I’d agree with all the points. In fact, why not just bring back the Latin Mass at this point? The Novus Ordo was always hit or miss, the Latin had an other-worldly beauty to it.
    I know I know, TLM is available, but because it’s no longer the standard, it’s very hard to find. Why not swap the two? Make TLM the standard and the Novus Ordo the “special” one that people have to go far out of their way to find, that sounds good to me. 😉 (And just watch how few there’d be searching for the Novus, heh).

    BTW, may I just say that I cracked up over this line:
    “I would love it if you would issue an edict requiring all parishes to gather up the “Breaking Wind” hymnals and burn them in the courtyard.”
    If only!
    On Ash Wednesday I was treated to the lovely “Ashes”. Ugh.
    It was odd that Mass, like a battle raging on within it, between the light and the darkness, in which achingly beautiful hymns like “Agnus Dei XVIII” was sung back to back with achingly bad hymns like “Ashes”.
    I believe it was C.S. Lewis that said something to the effect of: there is no one square inch in the universe that is not claimed by God ad counter-claimed by Satan.

  4. Thanks for the comments, folks! Yes, “Ashes” is one of the most egregious examples of what has happened at our parish. Another favorite is something about singing a new church into being. Oy vey!

  5. Oh, I forgot to add to the list: “Please, oh please, tell the pastors of the many churches in the U.S. where the congregation is invited to ‘stand up and greet each other’ before Mass begins — to CEASE and DESIST!” Really, it’s worse than an insurance agents’ convention.